Can You Sue for Emotional Distress After a Personal Injury in California?

emotional distress

Yes, you can, but only to a certain extent.
It’s because whatever physical injury you suffer from isn’t purely physical.
The damage also has effects on your mental and emotional state.
California laws know this and let victims claim for the emotional or mental anguish they go through. The problem, however, is that insurance companies do what they can to avoid paying that compensation amount.
It is your Burbank personal injury lawyer who can help you here. But it’s always better for you to know more about your rights and limitations while making a claim.

Damages Victims Can Claim for After a Personal Injury

personal injury

There are three kinds of damage you can claim if you suffer from a personal injury. It, however, is your attorney who assesses your case conditions and decides what you can claim for.
The damages are:

  • Economic damages where you claim compensation for all financial losses sustained. Examples are medical, doctor, and hospital bills, lost wages, and reduced property value.
  • Non-economic damages where you claim for all the emotional distress the injury caused you. It includes mental anguish, pain, suffering, depression, and overall emotional distress.
  • Punitive damages where the plaintiff is awarded money for the defendant’s egregious conduct. It is in addition to the compensation received.

Can I Sue Even If I Weren’t Injured Physically?

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California generally doesn’t let you sue for ‘hurt feelings in the absence of any physical injury. However, there are some exceptional cases like:

  • Imminent fear of your physical safety
  • Character defamation by the defendant
  • Developing a disorder as a consequence of someone else’s conduct even without physical contact
  • Witnessing the physical injury or killing of a close relation

There are many other scenarios to claim emotional distress in the absence of bodily injury. It’s based on two common grounds- Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress (NIED) and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED). And multiple factors like specific facts and details of your emotional distress determine the success of your claim.
IIED requires proof that the defendant’s actions were outrageous and intentional and that the pain is severe.
NIED, however, doesn’t require proof of intent, extreme distress, or recklessness. However, it requires evidence that the defendant’s carelessness contributed to the development of pain.
While NIED claims are more straightforward to prove than IIED Claims, they have complex governing laws. This is where your personal injury lawyer in Burbank can help determine if you have a claim and on which grounds.

When You Can’t Sue for Emotional Distress in CA

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California law has some laws imitating emotional distress damage claims. For example, auto accident victims cannot recover emotional distress damages if:

  • The claimant is convicted of DUI in connection with the accident
  • The claimant doesn’t have proper auto insurance for the vehicle they were driving. This exception, however, doesn’t apply if the defendant has a DIU conviction concerning the case.

Workers’ compensation in California, unfortunately, doesn’t include pain and suffering benefits. However, injured employees can claim emotional distress outside the workers’ comp system.

Your Burbank Personal Injury Lawyer Will Help

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An experienced attorney will know if you can claim for emotional distress or not. They know how much emotional turmoil you must be going through and will be by your side through the claim process.
Your attorney will also fight to ensure you receive maximum financial compensation for emotional distress where possible and available.
You, anyway, have nothing to lose. Most personal injury attorneys in Burbank don’t charge for their services until they get you your money. Besides, the initial consultation is also usually free!

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